The US Embassy in Cuba will resume issuing visas as normal

The United States Embassy in Cuba announced on Wednesday the “full recovery” issuing visas from 2023, after almost five years of interruption. This announcement comes as the island is experiencing an unprecedented migratory exodus and is going through its worst economic crisis in thirty years, under the combined effects of the consequences of the pandemic and the strengthening of United States sanctions.

“In early 2023, the United States Embassy in Havana will fully relaunch the issuance of visas for emigrants, a first since 2017”, announced the diplomatic representation in a press release. Closed since 2017 due to supposed “acoustic attacks” having caused health problems among diplomats, the American consulate had resumed issuing visas in May, but in a limited way.

Since the closure of the consulate, obtaining a visa for the United States had become an obstacle course for Cubans, with the obligation to go through a third country, at their expense, to make their request. For the American embassy, ​​the complete resumption of the issuance of visas must allow “facilitate safe, orderly, humane and regular migration”.

Read also: The United States announces the reopening of its consulate in Cuba

Record illegal immigration

Many Cubans seek to emigrate at all costs, some by sea, but the majority try to reach the United States by land, via Central America. According to the American border police, 198,000 Cubans have entered the United States illegally in the last eleven months, a record – the two previous migration crises saw 100,000 Cubans flee in 1980 and 45,000 others in 1994.

Around 5,700 Cubans were also intercepted at sea between October 2021 and September by the US Coast Guard, as they attempted to cross the Florida Strait, which separates the two countries.

For the American embassy, ​​the total resumption of the issuance of visas and the relaunch, in August, of a family reunification program “constitute a major effort to respect” the commitment of the United States to grant “a minimum of 20,000” annual visas to Cubans under bilateral migration agreements signed in the 1990s.

In May, Havana and Washington resumed their annual discussions on the migration issue, after a four-year suspension under the mandate of Donald Trump (2017-2021). Delegations from both countries met in early September to “increase bilateral cooperation” in the fight against illegal emigration, according to the Cuban interior ministry.

Read also: US lifts series of sanctions against Cuba

The World with AFP

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